Engineering Group Leader Apologizes for Printing Anti-Gay Letter
September 30, 2013
Norman Fortenberry, executive director of the American Society for Engineering Education, has issued an apology for the publication in the group's magazine Prism of an anti-gay letter. "I apologize. I wish to express deep regret for my error in judgment in advocating publication of Professor Wayne Helmer’s letter in the September issue of Prism and for the resulting anger, pain, disappointment, and embarrassment to ASEE members, officers, and staff and the LGBTQ community," said Fortenberry's statement. The Helmer letter said in part: "We would do well to teach the truth about the homosexual /lesbian/ bisexual/ transgender lifestyle. These dear people caught up in this destructive way of life need true help and true hope and not encouragement or approval of a detrimental, negative lifestyle."
The letter prompted an uproar by many members of the engineering society, and Fortenberrry -- while saying that the letter should have had a disclaimer -- had defended the decision to publish it. In his apology, Fortenberry expressed a new position. "My rationale in publishing the letter has been reported elsewhere and will not be repeated here," he wrote. "In that rationale I failed to recognize that there is a balance to be struck between representing a variety of viewpoints and not providing a platform for views that are generally considered outside the mainstream of public debate."